Chronic pain is unfortunately one of the most common causes of doctor’s visits in America. All over the country, people are searching for answers to their back, joint, muscle, and all-over body pain with very few answers from their general practitioner. However, the answers they are searching for can be found, with the help of a pain management specialist.
Pain management is the field of medicine that focuses specifically on pain – chronic pain, acute pain, and pain caused by other conditions such as cancer. A pain management center can give you a more tailored approach to your treatment than a primary care doctor can, with the help of a variety of specialties working together.
What is a Pain Management Specialist?
A pain management specialist is a physician that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic pain. While a variety of specialists fit within the pain management category – such as surgeons, chiropractors, physical therapists, and even psychiatrists – many of them work together to create comprehensive approaches to pain that can work in the short- and long-term.
Pain management specialists can help identify the underlying causes of your pain, whether it’s repetitive stress or a previous injury, and will tailor a pain management plan to suit your needs.
They will create a step-by-step plan, beginning with the least invasive options, and work through potential solutions until you find what’s right for you. Some of the common methods used by pain management specialists include acupuncture, physical therapy, chiropractic medicine, at-home remedies, and interventional medicine.
Chronic vs. acute pain management
Pain management specialists treat both acute and chronic pain, but the treatment plans are very different. Acute pain is a type of pain that is caused by a specific injury or ailment and typically goes away after that injury is healed. Most people who experience acute pain come in because they know something else is wrong, and the treatment of the injury itself typically resolves the other symptoms. While it may take up to six months for acute pain to go away completely, it will be treated by treating the underlying issue, and with supplementary methods until the body is fully healed.
Chronic pain, on the other hand, is considered a condition all its own. Chronic pain can start from an underlying injury, but if it does not go away as the injury heals, it means that something else is wrong with the body that needs to be addressed. Chronic pain can be caused by repetitive stress, injuries that did not heal properly, or abnormalities in the nerves that cause secondary issues.
Chronic pain is more difficult to treat and therefore requires a multi-disciplinary approach to achieve long-lasting results. Chronic pain is also frustrating to the patient, as it can impact mobility and lifestyle for months or even years if left untreated. Many chronic pain patients seek both medical help and mental health support, as chronic pain is a common cause of depression and anxiety as it limits a person’s ability to enjoy a normal life.
What treatment options are available to me?
When you visit a chronic pain specialist for the first time, you will likely sit down for a consultation to go over your medical history and previous diagnoses. If you don’t have a diagnosis for your pain, this will be the first step followed by a long-term pain management plan. Depending on the type and severity of your pain, your physician may recommend one or more of the following treatments:
- Over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers
- Physical therapy
- Medical and surgical interventions
- Meditation and mindfulness practices
- Heat therapy
- Exercise and lifestyle changes
- Mental health treatment to assist with psychological symptoms of chronic pain
PPOA works with our patients one-on-one to ensure they get the long-lasting relief needed to get their lives back. If you have been experiencing pain with little to no relief, contact our local offices today to find a pain management specialist who can help you thrive.